Apple's CarPlay and the Connected Car Ecosystem

As auto manufacturers and content providers wrestle with the dynamics of smartphone tethering and the integration of infotainment systems into the head-unit, Apple, once again has come to the market with a potential game changer. CarPlay, the company’s recently announced in-car infotainment system, will have an important impact on the aftermarket car infotainment industry, even if it is only available to users of Apple products. (No change there then). Auto entertainment system manufacturers like Alpine, Clarion and Pioneer are all expected to offer CarPlay, which so far only comes with new vehicles from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo. The intelligent voice prompt system which comes with the latest iPhones, Siri, will be used to manage voice, SMS and apps and the system will link in with iTunes Radio, iHeartRadio, and Spotify and other content. Importantly, CarPlay will also come to the after-market in mid-2014, making each vehicle capable of running anything on the iOS platform, thereby complimenting initiatives in the Android space. The price may be expensive- at between $700 and $1,400- but then it does afford the user a lot of functionality and getting more auto manufacturers on board is unlikely to be a problem. Apple is understood to have signed up BMW, GM and Honda to the CarPlay system already. Apple is not the only technology heavyweight to teaming up with car manufacturers though. Google is working with Audi, Honda and Hyundai to integrate its Android operating system into the head-unit, and with GM and Nvidia, it has formed the Open Automotive Alliance to "speed up innovation" in the car industry. LTE, of course, will spur advanced automotive applications such as streaming media, and LTE chipsets are already widely available in the US and are becoming available worldwide as LTE coverage becomes more extensive. Bringing all this together points to a world where all new cars, and an increasing number of old ones, not only come with connectivity as standard, but come with advanced integration of content into the head-unit, managed by voice commands or from the steering wheel. This is all great for the consumer. It presents a challenge for telematics service providers, though. They are finding it hard to get consumers to re-subscribe to their services as can be seen in Juniper Research’s forecasts which feature in our recently published report on the connected car and telematics.